There is something immensely satisfying about buying your photographic equipment, in person, from a dedicated camera store.
The Internet has, sadly, reduced the number of bricks and mortar stores, to the point where it’s often only major cities where you can walk in a try out equipment. Those remaining stores can be very good, very bad or even a mixture of both.
A camera store is, of course, a business and in this day and age of online deliveries, they have to up-sell to increase their profit margins and to survive. Some will do this in an ethical way, putting the customer needs first, others will put profits and commissions over the customer’s needs.
Today we are going to look at 6 lies your camera store tells you.
1. Buying A Camera.
Camera store sale people can spot a newcomer a mile away. And newcomers are going to be a significant source of up-selling to an unscrupulous camera store.
The first thing they might do is inform you that the base level camera that you had set your heart on does not have enough features for you to take great pictures. They will attempt to get you to buy into a more advanced level camera with the promise you will be able to walk out of the store and be an amazing photographer. It is, of course, lies. You will be an amazing photographer with a base camera and lots of practice.
Another tactic often used is to downplay the camera manufacturer you want to buy into. Different camera stores will often have different margins on, for example, Nikon and Canon products. They might steer you away from the Nikon you had wanted towards a similar specced Canon, purely because they will make more money on it. Do your research and keep in mind that a salesperson might be guiding you away from what you want to purchase.
2. Buying Lenses.
Another area that salespeople will target is people buying lenses. Most entry and mid-level cameras may well come with a decent quality kit lens. If you are relatively new to photography, this will be more than adequate to get you started.
However, you might be told that you are going to need another lens if your photography is to shine. More often than not, this will be a telephoto zoom and for good reason. Even somebody very new to photography will know about telephotos.
A good zoom is a product that a newcomer will desire, and the salesperson will prey on that. Learn to walk before you run, practice with your standard kit lens, see where your photography is going, then decide on what type of lens your second purchase should be; you may well find that it’s not a telephoto after all.
When you do buy a second or even third lens, camera stores will often guide you towards the faster, more expensive lenses. It's an easy sell, more expensive lenses are better in low light and have better image quality. All of this is correct but not to the point where you may pay double or triple your budget for a relatively small improvement in quality.
3. The Accessories.
You have the camera and the lens. What else do you need? A bag, a tripod, memory cards, card reader, SD card holder, spirit level, flashgun, camera cleaning kit, and on and on. Except you don’t. These are all lies that the camera store might tell you.
You will need a memory card; just one will be fine. You can hold off on a bag, tripod, card reader, and all the rest until you are comfortable. Camera stores will often try to sell you very cheap and nasty accessories because they will have high-profit margins on them. Classic examples of this are cleaning kits and tripods.
A cheap tripod is not going to bring you any joy, and cheap cleaning kit will have you chasing smudges around your lenses for hours. Buy better quality when you need them, not as an up-sell on a major purchase.
4. Extended Warranties
Another thing a lot of stores will do is offer you an extended warranty. This is very often priced way beyond their worth. Firstly check the original manufacturer’s warranty, these are usually more than sufficient and sometimes cover several years.
The small print of these extended warranties is where they get you. There will be clause after clause that will preclude you getting your camera repaired or replaced.
Photographic equipment these days is extremely reliable. If it is going to fail, it will generally happen inside the original manufacturer's warranty and will be repaired for free.
5. Not All Camera Sales People Are Experts.
There are some excellent camera stores where nearly all the staff are expert in one field or another. These tend to be stores that cater for newcomers all the way through to season professionals.
Then there are the more consumer-oriented photographic chain stores. Very often the sales clerks have little training and often little knowledge of the products they are selling.
I experienced both recently. I bought some high-end equipment for a well know professional photographic chain in the UK. Their service was exemplary, and the salesman was highly knowledgable about the products he was selling me — however, one small item I needed they did not have in stock, a micro HDMI cable.
This was a vital piece of equipment, so I tried a nearby consumer chain photographic store. They did not even know what a micro HDMI cable was and failed to help me in any way at all. The moral of this is that not all photographic chains are the same. You might pay slightly more at a pro store, but you will get the expertise that the premium brings.
6. Not Every Store Is As It Seems.
You will have heard of fake memory cards, fake camera straps, but what about fake camera stores? Although rare, this does happen as in a case a few years ago, A store in the Canary Islands of Spain looked for all intents and purposes to be an overseas branch of a well known UK camera store chain. Indeed, the sales staff inside the store happily informed purchasers that their guarantees would be honoured in the UK by taking it into a store there. Except none of it was true.
The store was using the UK chain’s branding and store design to lure in tourists and rip them off with overpriced cameras and services.
While this is rare, it is perhaps the ultimate lie a camera store tells you.
Not all camera stores or salespeople are going to lie to you.
There are some excellent stores out there. They have survived the Internet era by providing expertise and a great customer experience. However, all bricks a mortar camera stores have to fight to survive these days, and some will use more questionable tactics to raise their profitability.
As in anything you purchase, do your research, have in mind what you want from the product and be aware that a salesperson may well be guiding you to another product for their own means and not for any desire to make sure you make the right purchase.
When people ask me “what is the best camera for me” my answer is “the camera you have with you”.
So many people spend a bundle on the latest and greatest then leave it home because it’s to heavy, to complicated or just to much work.
The best pictures are taken through practice not new expensive equipment.
Yes if your going into the business as a photographer or plan on 24 x 36 prints you may need a good camera and lens but you also need it with you and experience.